WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — One major effect of the COVID-19 pandemic is that nearly 1.6 million Texans who lost their jobs due to the virus have also lost access to employer-sponsored health insurance.
However, that doesn’t mean they have to lose access to testing especially testing for the coronavirus.
Uninsured patients at the Community Healthcare Center generally make up 65% of overall clients.
The CHC is providing COVID-19 testing for those insured and uninsured.
“We were able to make these arrangements to not only get the lab services but for the most part we’ve been able to get it for the patients for free, and that’s pretty much universal certainly if they have insurance,” CHC CEO Allen Patterson said. “If they don’t have insurance, we’ve been able to get those for them for free as well.”
There is a cost for the visit though. Patterson said it’s a maximum of $40 for uninsured patients while insured patients pay the co-pay.
Some people can get it cheaper depending on if they qualify.
“We do have a provider get involved in order to make sure that we’re using those precious resources of lab testing appropriately,” Patterson said.
JLM Health Insurance owner and independent agent Jaime Mock said there is a way to avoid price surprises.
“People who are uninsured need to call the testing facilities before they go so that they know how much it’s going to cost,” Mock said. “They also need to ask the question of do they have to pay all of it up front, right when they get there, is there the option of billing and if so they’re probably going to have to pay I’d say 50%.”
The price many Texans have paid isn’t the cost of a COVID-19 test.
“The biggest issue I think right now is the people that have lost their jobs and consequently now have lost their insurance,” Mock said. “60 days from the time of losing your coverage you qualify for what they call ‘special enrollment period.’
There’s not an hour that goes by that we don’t have somebody come up that has lost their employment and maybe they had insurance for the rest of that month, but it was after that that they got exposed to COVID-19,” Patterson said. “Your heart just goes out to those people.”
Insured or uninsured, affording testing doesn’t have to be an added stress brought on by the pandemic.
Patterson said it’s unclear how long the labs will allow free testing to occur.
Click here for information on the Special Enrollment Period.